It’s December—time for year-end roundups. In this article, I’m highlighting the five most popular book reviews posted on this blog. I review only books I like. I don’t always choose new books. I’ve reviewed some books written by authors I know, although they didn’t ask me to do it. Most of my choices were recommended by friends. The rest caught my attention after reading about them.
Out of the 15 book reviews I’ve written so far for this blog, only one is about a non-fiction book—Paula Munier’s “Plot Perfect: Building Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene.” It’s also this blog’s most-read book review.
Here are the five book reviews with the highest number of views:
1. Paula Munier’s “Plot Perfect” is a Treasure Trove of Tools for Writers
“Plot Perfect: Building Unforgettable Stories Scene by Scene” by Paula Munier, published by Writer’s Digest Books, 2014
In keeping with the book’s title, Paula Munier doesn’t flinch when she states, “If you want to write commercial fiction, you need to be about plot.” Perhaps anticipating some raised eyebrows, Munier adds, “Even if your aim is to write literary fiction…you need plot as well as style. Something needs to happen and that something is plot.” She cites literary novelists who write great plots and whose books are commercially successful: John Irving, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Hoffman, Dennis Lehane, and Kazuo Ishiguro. Read more.
2. Christina Baker Kline’s “Orphan Train”: An Emotional Journey Worth Sharing
“Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2013
At first glance, 90-year-old Vivian has nothing in common with Molly, a troubled teen-ager. Vivian is well-off and white, originally from Ireland, while Molly is poor and half-Penobscot Indian. When Molly is caught stealing a copy of “Jayne Eyre” at the public library, she must either perform community service by helping Vivian clean her attic, or go to a juvenile center. She chooses the former, bringing the two together. Read more.
3.“Revolutionary” Features a Strong Heroine Who Defies Gender Roles
“Revolutionary” by Alex Myers, published by Simon & Schuster, 2014
In 1782, it was illegal for a woman to dress as a man in Massachusetts. Deborah Samson, the 22-year-old heroine of Alex Myers’s literary novel, not only dresses as a man but fights as a soldier during the American Revolutionary War. Read more.
4. 85 Years Later, Dashiell Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon” Continues to Delight
“The Maltese Falcon” by Dashiell Hammett, published by Plume, 2008 (originally published in 1930)
A priceless Maltese falcon figurine is at the center of Dashiell Hammett’s seminal detective novel set in foggy San Francisco. The story opens with a mysterious woman named Miss Wonderly hiring private eye Sam Spade and his partner Miles Archer to follow Floyd Thursby, who supposedly eloped with her sister. Read more.
5. “The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing”: Melissa Bank Creates a Funny, Witty, Irresistible Heroine
"The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing" by Melissa Bank, published by Penguin Books, 1999
When I was reading Melissa Bank's book, I felt like someone who was unfashionably late for a party. I've missed the early fun, but I can still catch up. Published in 1999, I've heard of this best-selling book, but didn't pick it up until this past September. During a nerve-wracking trip to New York City to attend a pitch conference, I found comfort in Bank's irresistible heroine, Jane Rosenthal. Read more.